The first week of the 2010–11 TV season is over, and there was some good news for broadcasters, but it was all old news: Sophomores Glee and Modern Family were the No. 1 scripted hour and half-hour, and reality vets Survivor, The Amazing Race, and Dancing With the Stars showed that the genre’s biggest hits still have legs. But as yesterday’s cancellation of Fox’s Lone Star demonstrated, life for most new shows has proved nasty, brutish, and short. And while execs these days often preach patience when it comes to scheduling decisions — “Wait till you see the DVR numbers!” — in truth, the fates of some shows often become obvious after just a week or two. We’ve autopsied the early Nielsen data and come up with six more shows most in danger of joining Lone Star in TV heaven, as well as the contenders for what might replace them.
My Generation (ABC, 8 p.m. Thursday): Bad marketing, bad reviews, and ratings on par with Lone Star (and well below last year’s ultimately failed FlashForward) make it hard to see how the Alphabet would give this mess of a soap opera much more time, barring an unexpected Nielsen bump this Thursday. Indeed, we suspect ABC pretty much expected this show to flop, given that it never announced premiere dates for alleged Friday newcomers Body of Proof and Secret Millionaire. We could see Body — which features Dana Delany as a sort of distaff Quincy — working with the network’s other female-friendly soaps. Although there are other slots where the show might be needed, such as …
The Whole Truth (ABC, 10 p.m. Wednesday): With ABC spending so much time and money hyping My Generation (and last night’s No Ordinary Family), it pretty much forgot to tell anyone this crime procedural was on. The result: Truth lost half of its Cougar Town lead-in and finished below the soft premiere of last fall’s Eastwick. Things could get tougher this week if viewers decide to check out the premiere of NBC’s Law & Order: Los Angeles. Assuming Truth doesn’t reverse course quickly, Body of Proof is also a possible contender for this slot. The network also has some ABC News specials ready to go, if it wants to counter-program against LOLA and The Defenders. And there’s always V, which currently doesn’t have a time slot but could be ready to bow by November.
Running Wilde (Fox, 9:30 Tuesday): So here’s the good news: The Arrested Development semi-reunion didn’t completely tank last week, and all the heat on Lone Star gives Fox a little breathing room here. As long as Raising Hope stays strong, and Wilde stays stable, the network can be patient. If either part of that equation changes, Wilde could be endangered. Fox is unlikely to debut a new show in the time slot this fall, however; instead, it will likely let Wilde run as a lame duck until American Idol returns in January and the network’s entire lineup gets its usual mid-season overhaul.
The Apprentice (NBC, 10 p.m. Thursday): After a weak two-hour debut before the season even began, the regular-people edition of the Donald Trump franchise sank even further last week. While The Jay Leno Show proved NBC can take some pain in the ten o’clock hour, it’s unlikely Apprentice will stay put in this high-profile slot much longer. Options for the hour include: the return of Jerry Seinfeld’s The Marriage Ref; extending the 8 to 10 p.m. comedy block into the 10 p.m. hour (a risky move); or an early November debut for the show that NBC had planned to air here, Love Bites. Ref seems the safest bet, since it would be the easiest show to promote on short notice.
Outlaw (NBC, 10 p.m. Friday): Nobody expected much from this Jimmy Smits show, but 5 million viewers and a 1.1 rating with adults under 50 is a tough pill to swallow. Assuming NBC sticks with its plan to launch new reality show School Pride Fridays at eight on October 15 and shift Dateline to 9 p.m., it would be very easy to have Dateline run from 9 to 11 p.m., very likely improving the network’s 10 p.m. performance (and helping out local affiliates with a far better lead-in to their 11 p.m. newscasts).
Life Unexpected (CW, 9 p.m. Tuesday): CW executives love this show, but viewers — even the narrow female 18 to 34 demo the CW focuses on — just aren’t tuning in. Last week’s episode of the cutely nicknamed LUX averaged a mere 1.3 in that demo, losing more than 20 percent of its not-particularly-strong One Tree Hill lead-in. It might make more sense for the CW to repeat either Hellcats or Nikita in this hour, giving one of those shows more exposure.